The Wallabies are going to need a major dose of perseverance when they face defensive beasts Wales in Tokyo this weekend, according to coach Michael Cheika.
Australia saw first hand how brutal the Welsh brick wall can be as recently as last November, when they lost their first match to Wales in a decade, in a grinding 9-6 match.
Wales didn’t light the game up in attack but they smothered the Wallabies’ attempts to use their own attacking weapons.
The past 15 matches between Australia and Wales have been decided by single figures, dating all the way back to 2009.
Wales finally broke a decade-long drought against the Wallabies in Cardiff last year, a grinding 9-6 victory over Australia.
The Wallabies have tweaked their attack this year with Cheika joking that their unpredictability is founded on the idea that if Australia doesn’t know what’s coming next then their opponents will have no hope.
“I got to admit, when we first came together this start of the year and started talking about playing this way and there was a lot of blank looks especially from the playmakers because they’re so used to calling everything we know, pre-calling everything,” he said.
“It’s been a bit of a running joke, if we don’t know what we’re doing then the opposition’s no chance of knowing what we’re doing, it’s a bit of an inside joke but a certain amount of unpredictability is good for us and good for the game.
“Yeah, we got a few maul tries on the weekend but then you saw the try at the back end of the game and made some other nice breaks inside of the game as well, got a lot of half-passes coming from the nine now, but not all of them are being made by the halfback.
“We’re just trying to play a bit more up tempo and I know they’ll be, when I coached in Europe, Leinster, Munster, different styles of football, both teams very passionate about their style and both styles were very successful.
“It’s just about who you are.”
A mixture of set piece and that open play in the final half hour helped the Wallabies to their win over Fiji, who welcomed the unpredictability Australia brought.
Against Wales, however, it won’t be a matter of like up against like but rather two diametrically opposed approaches going head-to-head.
Cheika said his side would simply need to keep pushing against Wales to “break their wall”.
“It’s pretty simple and we want to keep building on that (unpredictable style), we want to try – obviously we’re coming up against one of the best defences in World Rugby on Sunday, so that’ll be a challenge and about where we want to attack,” he said.
“They’re a very good defending team Wales, you saw last game, I don’t think there was a try, there was no try at all, we didn’t score and they didn’t score in the game in Cardiff, so we know that it’s going to take a certain amount of perseverance to be able to break their wall.”
The Wallabies are capable of their own defensive feats too – their 2015 World Cup win over Wales included an epic display of grit as they kept the Welsh out with two men in the bin.
Centre Tevita Kuridrani was one of the players who finished the full 80 that day and asked whether he felt this group could replicate that feat if required, he kept his answer simple.
Kuridrani has been sidelined with a hamstring injury recently but will be available for selection in Sunday’s match against Wales.
“The plan for us is just to win, whatever it takes to win,” he said.
“Try and do everything to win, we want to win, it’s our mindset to win, do whatever it takes to win.”